I am now the pool boy

What a fun couple of weeks this has been. We’ve opened up our pool and the whole family is enjoying it. It been a huge project to get to this point.

Last November, my wife and I had an in ground pool installed and we’ve been scurrying to get it fully operational for the Memorial Day weekend. We started the vetting process to select the company back in August of 2009 and for each portion we spoke with 4 or 5 companies. Lily wanted to make sure we got a good deal as well as what we wanted.

With all the construction, the pool has a layer of dirt and sand on the bottom.  I’ve put in the pool roomba (it climbs the pools walls!) but Saturday I vacuumed out the whole pool. I got almost all of the sand on the bottom but I also stirred up some sand too, so I’ll be vacuuming on a regular basis for now. The water is clear but the remaining sand is hiding out in the corners and it bugs me.

With any pool construction, you need to deal with at lots of companies. The pool company, the landscapers, the fencing company, and the sprinkler company. This is going to sound like one big product endorsement, but I want to say thank you to all the companies involved.

The construction was fast and well done. We used a company called Swimking and they’ve been great. I’ve called them, and they have patiently answered my questions and came back to deal with some small adjustments. I’ve never had to deal with any pool so I’ve had lots of questions. There have been minor things and they sent someone over to sort it out quickly.

I’m in IT and while I can visualize what people are describing very well, I’m no good at designing a layout. Our plantings and garden work has all been done by Cappiello Landscaping. The owner Joe described a really good-looking plan, told us what plants we were getting etc. But seeing it in place is fantastic. Joe’s company works fast and efficiently and in a few days they transformed a construction site into a great back yard garden. The whole layout with the pool works great.

We selected Continental Fence to install estate fencing where you can see it and black chain link where you can’t. I was afraid the surrounding the pool with a fence (NY state safety code, and its a good thing too) would make the pool area look small. But the reverse happened and the effect makes the pool look bigger. It took Steve’s company less than 2 days to put the fencing in and it looks great.

For the in ground sprinkler work, we use Dean’s Sprinkler Service. We’ve been using Dean’s company for about 5 years. Dean and his guys chase down every sprinkler head, tunes the system with the gardener. And Dean personally drops by on his day off and makes sure the whole system is working. I can’t say enough good things about Dean: he explains what and why he’s doing something and gives you a lot of options to work with.

Once the pool is all cleaned up I’ll post photos. We started using the pool already but there are still some more things to complete.

WordPress 3.0 menus and Hybrid theme

WordPress 3.0 beta comes with support for a customized menu system that optionally replaces the wp_page_menu with wp_nav_menu. Drag and drop menu management is a cool and useful feature. It’s like widgets only for navigation purposes.

For my WordPress blog I am using a child theme of Hybrid called WP Full Site and I’ve made some minor changes and additions. Among them I have removed the Home link and added a Subscribe link in my menu.

Modifying my functions.php file like so accomplished the deed:

add_filter('wp_page_menu', 'custom_page_nav');

function custom_page_nav( $menu ) {

    // My blog title is already clickable, why have another Home link?
    // Remove the Home link from the home page
    $zaphome = '<li class="current_page_item"><a title="Home" href="' . get_bloginfo('wpurl') . '/">Home</a></li>';
    $menu = str_replace( $zaphome ,'', $menu );

    // Remove the Home link from everywhere else
    $zaphome = '<li><a title="Home" href="' . get_bloginfo('wpurl') . '/">Home</a></li>';
    $menu = str_replace( $zaphome ,'', $menu );

    // Now add a RSS subscribe link with CSS id
    $links .= '<li id="feed"><a href="' . get_bloginfo('rss2_url') . '" title="Subscribe to the feed">Subscribe</a></li>';
    $menu = str_replace( '</ul></div>', $links . '</ul></div>', $menu );

    return $menu;
}

And I added these lines to my style.css (I am pretty sure I appropriated it from another of Patrick Daly’s themes but not sure which one):

#navigation ul li#feed {
    width: 120px;
    float: right;
    background: url(images/feed-icon.png) 100px 13px no-repeat;
 }
#navigation ul li#feed a:hover {
    background: #433B14 url(images/feed-icon.png) 100px 13px no-repeat;
 }

And that took care of that.

The upcoming Hybrid 0.8 theme is in beta and has support for the WordPress 3.0 menu system. Activating it changes the CSS styling and replaces wp_page_menu with wp_nav_menu. I wanted to give the menu system a try while keeping my modifications. It was easier than I thought.

First up, fix the CSS. With the wp_page_menu output, the menus are styled with CSS ID of navigation. This gets switched to a CSS class called menu when you use wp_nav_menu.

/* Menus */
.menu {
        background: url('library/images/nav-bg.gif') repeat-x;
        border-bottom: 1px solid #433B14;
        border-top: 1px solid #0F0F0F;
        height: 38px;
}
.menu li {
        border-left: 1px solid #262001;
        border-right: 1px solid #322a03;
}
.menu li ul li {
        border-bottom: 1px solid #433B14;
        font-style: italic;
        font-weight: normal;
        text-transform: none;
}
.menu a {
        color: #fff;
        display: block;
        font-size: 14px;
        font-weight: bold;
        line-height: 14px;
        padding: 12px 18px;
        text-decoration: none;
}
.menu a:hover {
        background: #433B14;
}
.menu li ul li a {
        background: url('library/images/nav-bg.gif') repeat-x;
        border-bottom: 1px solid #0F0F0F;
}
/* My subscribe button */
.menu ul li#feed {
        width: 120px;
        float: right;
        background: url(images/feed-icon.png) 100px 13px no-repeat;
        }
.menu ul li#feed a:hover {
        background: #433B14 url(images/feed-icon.png) 100px 13px no-repeat;
        }
.menu ul li#feed a {
        }

Tedious, but not really a big deal and I just copied the existing CSS in the child theme. I’m not very CSS savvy so there is probably an easier way to re-use the existing section.

To add my Subscribe link all I had to do was add one more filter like so.

add_filter('wp_nav_menu', 'custom_page_nav');

Now I can switch between using the new or old menu system and maintain the look and feel that I want.

Hoi Hoi San WIP

Not my usual type of model.

This is the work in progress picture for the 1/1 scale Hoi Hoi-san model. It’s for my 6 year old girl. To make sure that it all works out, I’m gluing the pieces together when appropriate. The head will have interchangeable faces so I need to remember to NOT glue those parts together.

Google Voice on the iPhone is slick

After I read this article on Gizmodo  (helpfully called “How To: Jailbreak Any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad”) I figured what the heck and did the deed.

The Spirit Jailbreak Tool is as fire and forget as it gets. I backed up my iPhone, made sure I could restore it to its pristine Apple condition and pushed the button. It was so easy that I wonder what the catch is. A few minutes later and GV Mobile was installed on my phone.

I can see why Apple and/or AT&T blocked this app in the iTunes store. The integration is so flawless that I’m not sure why I would go back and use the Apple dialer. It’s like the Apple phone app but integrated with Google Voice. I get my downloaded voicemail as well as the transcribed email.

It’s a shame that Apple does not let Google get this onto the app store, it’s a good quality program.